Happy Birthday, Dad.

The train my dad’s been waiting for finally pulled into the station last Thursday, January 23rd.

My mom said he had a smile on his face when he went. Maybe my grandfather stepped onto the platform to bring him on board. The smiling father he never knew, and only heard for the first time last year, on his last Father’s Day. 

I’ve heard the horror stories of lots of people, the stories of angry, drunken, or absent fathers.

My dad never gave me any of those stories to tell. The hardest thing he ever put me through was his own death. I love him dearly and miss him sorely. I never knew a better man. He was faithful, loving, and kind. He and my mom took me all over this country, taught me to love history and to cleave to each other, and to always pull over when someone needs help .

The last movie we watched together was The Shootist, which funny enough, took place from January 22nd-29th. The last week of the main character, JB Books’ life, the last movie of John Wayne’s career. I somehow always thought my dad would die somewhere in this span of dates, if not on his actual birthday. It’s fitting. The 22nd was Robert E. Howard’s birthday too, and the line, “gigantic mirths and gigantic melancholies” keeps making me think of Dad.

Today, the 27th, is his birthday. Last night I opened the fridge and saw a single bottle of Beck’s, his favorite beer and just lost it. It’s the last one left in the house. Mom says I should drink it today. I don’t know. I feel like he’d want me to get rid of all the Coronas in the downstairs fridge he bought for me. He called them creek water, and was always asking me when I was gonna finish ’em. I’d tell him to drink them with me.

“Noooo thank you,” he’d demure.

The last thing he said to me from his bed a couple weeks ago as I went to the door was;

“I love ya Ed. I’m gonna miss you.”

He never forgot me. Even when he was forgetting everything my Dad never forgot me.

“I love you too, Dad,” I said. “I’m gonna miss you too. Just promise to come and get me when it’s my turn.”

“I promise,” he said.

If he was ever afraid, I never saw it.

Mom said once before he fell unconscious he worried that he “had to finish that thing for Ed.” I don’t know what he was thinking about. He didn’t leave anything undone. Today I find myself a son with no father on earth. As far as I’m concerned, my Dad fulfilled his duty to me magnificently.

I hope now that he is with his own father. Now that I am without him, as I told him, I will live the rest of my life trying to be the father to my kids that he was to me. I hope now that he’s somewhere enjoying being the son he never got the chance to be, running with his dogs and his dad.


Published in: on January 26, 2020 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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